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16 December 2009 / April

Overdue

You know what I am super late in getting to?  Retrospectives on classes!  I am so not used to having to do them so early!  And once classes ended I went to Cleveland and subsequently got really insanely busy!  But that’s no excuse, dear readers.

’06-’07: September | June
’07-’08: September | June
’08-’09: September | June
’09-’10: September

On a tangentially related note, I am henceforth concluding my old “Exams” series, because I don’t think I’m going to be able to keep it up in college.  I mean, there are going to be like eight exams per calendar year, which is kind of ridiculous but hey, that’s college for you.

At any rate.

Intro to Logic and Semantics: My first college class […] could not have been better.  It was like Steven Pinker in a class form.

Yay Steven Pinker!  Speaking of books I love, we also discussed Gödelian incompleteness– only very briefly, but it still reaffirmed my initial realization that taking classes for credit that on subjects you would gladly learn about on your own is awesome.

Professor Sanders is also hilarious and amazing, but I knew that already because I sat in on one of his courses back in September ‘08.

So hilarious and so amazing that I’m taking another linguistics class from him in the spring (before he tragically must leave…).  I just want to tell all the hundreds of people who ask me, “So what’s linguistics anyway?” to go talk to Sanders, so he can explain it to them in his highly engaging, uncannily coherent, and surprisingly amusing way.

This is not the place to go on at length about why I find linguistics particularly fascinating.  But I will say that a lot of the discussions that the course inspired, both inside and outside class, basically epitomize the reason why I’m so glad to be at a small liberal arts college, where you don’t get judged for being a little bit OCD about presuppositions and whether or not the present king of France is bald.  Well, you don’t get judged too harshly.

Data Structures and Advanced Programming: I was actually fairly scared walking into this class because of my deep dark secret: I have done absolutely no programming since the topological hell of yesteryear.

Oh my god.  I have never been so wrong with a first impression of a class.  CS was basically the least scary class ever, because every data structure and pretty much every other concept was a review of what we learned in AP CS, with the single significant exception of graphs.  Which may explain why I find graphs so difficult.  That and the fact that we covered them in two lectures.

Jeannie is a very straight forward and cool professor, about whom I’ve heard only good things.

It was also very unscary because the whole class atmosphere was so chill and laid back, something Jeannie was happy to promote with her affinity for chatting with us for the first ten minutes of class and her total lack of pretension.  I actually got to know the people in my 13-student class pretty well– some very well indeed, including Jeannie herself, who more than any other professor I can honestly say is my friend (or rather, I will, once the semester officially ends and I can un-awkwardly friend her on Facebook).

When she was taking attendance and came to my name, she asked if I was “Antal’s buddy,” which I found highly amusing.  Antal is ubiquitously known in the CS department here, and I’m not surprised.

This still amuses me.  And it has only proved to be more accurate as I get to know the CS department more.

Multivariable Calculus: Ultimately, I’m really glad I got kicked out of Cornell’s multivariable class, even though it sucked at the time.  Because my professor here is Colin Adams.  And multivariable is, according to him, the funnest class offered at Williams.

Sorry, CA, false.  But Colin Adams is still the shit, according to me.  Just ask MY ENTIRE ENTRY.

The class is huge (liberal arts college-huge, that is, so like 40-50 people), but I have a couple friends there, and I don’t think I’ll get lost in the crowd too much.

Yeah, I sure didn’t learn names in multivariable.  Nor did I get lost in the crowd though, since I would sit in the front row like the dork I am (the dork who actually wants to be able to see the board) and occasionally ask questions like, “Could the universe be non-orientable?  Because, like, omigod, that would be so totally awesome!”

Anyway, what was really great about the way Adams taught was his unabashed appreciation for the ridiculousness of what he was doing and his unapologetic enthusiasm for doing it.  That he writes mathematical humor books or gave us lollipops, while excellent, was ultimately unimportant.  He clearly loves what he teaches and loves to teach it.  That’s really all I could ever want from a professor.  The rest follows.

In other news, yeah, still loving math.

Poetry and the City: I actually could still get kicked out of this class, because it’s a 200-level gateway English class and I’m a first-year who’s probably not going to be an English major.

Okay, funny story about that… Just today I met with Professor Sokolsky and she told me I should be an English major, because you know I’m doing so well in (procrastinating for) this class and I enjoy writing papers so fucking much it makes me want to die.

Sarcasm aside, I actually really enjoyed this class, though it was definitely hard for me going as in-depth into the poetry as we did.  And I definitely hate writing papers.  And I’m definitely not going to be an English major.  Sorry.

The professor here does not radiate enthusiasm and awesomeness like my others do, but I can tell she’s still really good, knows her stuff, and is impressively open to having students talk to her outside of class.

I don’t really do Sokolsky credit here.  She’s quiet but she does have a sense of humor, she’s totally brilliant when talking about poetry, and she does EVERYTHING in her power to help you, from meeting with you at the last minute to giving you extensions from yesterday till “whenever you can get it done,” even for people like me who refuse to write papers in the unrelentingly focused way she wants.

And the somewhat reserved personalities in our class still managed to bond over technological difficulties and planning outfits for Queer Bash, so that was excellent too.

Anyway, that was fun.  But now, cookie cake awaits (happy birthday Liz!)– and then, back to the paper…

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